An education in applied sociology and social work, and my practice as a social worker in North Kensington in London, led to a joint appointment in 1980 between Sheffield City Council Social Services and the University of Sheffield as a lecturer/practitioner in a community-based team. This ten year project formed a basis for a continuing interest in the development, application and dissemination of applied research within public services.
Since 1980, along with colleagues at Sheffield and elsewhere, I have been engaged in applied policy-related research which has often examined new solutions to long-standing problems, and has usually featured a close collaboration between practitioners, policy makers and the research team. Research projects have included a national study of social work education and training and its inter-connection with the first year of practice, the experiences of young people leaving the care system and their links with extended family, an evaluation of the pilot youth offending teams, an evaluation within child welfare services of a family decision-making model called Family Group Conferences and studies of the research infrastructure.
Throughout this period I have been engaged in the development and evaluation of task-centred practice, jointly with practice colleagues and Professor Mark Doel. Twenty years of practice development work has resulted in continuing refinement of a systematic model of partnership and evidence based practice. From 2003-6 I worked as part of the Primary Care Research and Development Unit, engaged in knowledge transfer within General Practice teams.